Jesus’ disciples were taught by Him for three years, and like us, they were not “one-lesson” prodigies. That is, they had to hear the same truths repeatedly, and they still didn’t grasp the significance of the lessons. On more than one occasion, the disciples were consumed with and argued about which one of them would be the greatest. Their pride wanted to exert itself to the point that each wanted to be a leader and have subjects under him (Matt. 18:1; 20:20-24; Mark 9:34; Mark 10:35-37; Luke 9:46; 22:24.)
Let that sink in. The ones who walked with Jesus, heard Jesus, observed Jesus, and claimed to know and love Jesus acted just like the world around them. While I do realize that these men were not yet indwelled by the Holy Spirit in fullness, they nevertheless appeared just like the rest of the world around them. Jesus did not “let them off of the hook” just because the Day of Pentecost had not yet arrived.
I want to quote Mark 10:42-45 - “You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them. But it is not so among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
Jesus told His followers that they were NOT to be like the rulers of the Gentiles, or those who did not know Him. They were to be His followers. He came to be a Servant and Ransom. He came to give His life away for His people. He did not come to impress the world; He came to die! It isn’t self-preservation and self-exaltation! It is self-denial.
Jesus told, and commanded, His disciples to become like a servant and slave. The servant and slave had no rights to which he could always appeal. The servant wasn’t consumed with self-esteem and impressing others. The servant was consumed with one thing, pleasing his master. The disciples were to avoid the worldly pattern of exerting earthly authority and positional power. Instead, they were to be voluntary, bond-slaves aimed at pleasing their Master.
Oh that our bossess, supervisors, managers, and leaders understood this truth! With that being said, I guess we as Christians should not really expect the unbelieving authority figures to desire or embrace this attitude. After all, they are acting naturally when they are consumed with exalting themselves.
However, the sad reality is that a large number of professing Christian supervisors, managers, and leaders resemble the world more than their Savior. They seek to impose their personal and selfish desires on their subordinates just because they have the power and authority to do so. They seem to enjoy belittling and bullying these ones that they should be serving and helping. Many of these leaders want to exalt themselves and promote their personal agendas at the expense of everyone else. They believe that their word is law, their will is supreme, and anyone who opposes them will suffer the consequences. There is very little difference between them and the non-Christian supervisors!
While I won’t dare to say these self-willed, arrogant, pompous, pride-filled people aren’t Christians, I will say this: They are not obeying Christ nor following His example. As a matter of fact, they are following the example of the one who opposes Christ and the Church.
Why do I make such a strong statement? I do so because Scripture does. When Paul was giving Timothy instructions for ordaining Elders within the Church, He gave character traits that were to be sought and others that were to be avoided. He told Timothy to be careful and weary of ordaining new converts. After this instruction, he tells him why, “lest he become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil” (1 Tim. 3:6).
If the new convert gets into a position of authority (Elder) and becomes conceited and full of himself, he will be following the example of the devil. A pride-filled, conceited Elder would be a curse to the Church and not a blessing. He would tear apart the Church instead of serve the Church. He would be like the devil instead of like the Savior.
The last thing that the Church and the name of Christ need are men and women in places of authority that are full of themselves and think they are the greatest thing since “sliced cheese.” We need leaders who are willing to be small, so that Christ can be seen to be what He is, great and worthy of praise. We need leaders who are humble and willing to be nothing in the world’s esteem so that Christ will be everything!
The same thing can be said of leaders who are supposed to be serving the cause of Christ in the workplace. Your are to be salt and light. You are to be following Christ and not the example of the devil. You are to serve others, not make them slaves to serve you and your self-willed desires.
If you are a leader or in some sort of position of authority, are you willing to be small in everyone else’s estimation? Are you willing to serve others and build them up instead of trying to push them around and display your perception of power? Are you willing to listen to others instead of thinking you are the only one with something to say? Are you willing to let others get credit and you take none? Are you willing to build others up instead of always tearing them down?
If not, repent! Remember these words before it is too late:
Proverbs 16:18 - Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling.